Melbourne - The Wallabies will have plenty of down-time over the next week to “mentally relax” after their humiliation by the All Blacks at Eden Park, captain Michael Hooper has said.
The 22-year-old flanker was one of the few Australian players to stand up during the 51-20 onslaught, which kept the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested between the two nations, in New Zealand hands for a 12th consecutive year.
Australia have two weeks to stew over the loss before they take on South Africa in Perth, in their third match of the Rugby Championship, but will not get another crack at the All Blacks until Oct. 18 when the trans-Tasman neighbours play a third, dead rubber match for the Bledisloe in Brisbane.
Having raised expectations at home of an upset at Eden Park by drawing the first match 12-12 in Sydney a week before, reality set in at the airport on the way home from New Zealand.
“It was tough. To go through Auckland airport and see all the Kiwi jerseys and all the Kiwi supporters really happy and our supporters unhappy, it was tough to come back as a group,” he told Australian Fox Sports.
“But we can rebuild, we get away for a week and mentally, really recover,” he added.
“I think the coaches get a chance to have a look at the first two games and look at how people have been performing. And we'll get a chance to get away from it which will be nice and mentally relax and then come into Perth excited.
“There'll be a fair bit of down-time over the next week but I'm sure the coaches will be ringing the tape and trying to get the best out of what we have at the moment.”
Ewen McKenzie and the Wallabies staff have been given no shortage of advice from Australian media, who have torn into the team with gusto.
Apart from the myriad handling errors and weak defensive efforts to stop the rampant All Blacks on the counter-attack, the Wallabies' tight five is under renewed scrutiny after being smashed at the set-piece.
The Wallabies' halves combination of Nic White and Kurtley Beale is also under siege after blowing their second chance to cement themselves with an ineffective partnership at Eden Park.
Having shown faith in the 23 that held the All Blacks in Sydney, McKenzie suggested he would be going back to the drawing board.
“We were getting the performances on the field until last night, so we'll have to take stock,” he said on Sunday.
Hooper, who defied the All Blacks with a gutsy try in the second half at Eden Park, said the Wallabies still rated themselves.
“We see ourselves as a really good team. One to 23 are all really class players and matched with the All Blacks, it was our systems let us down there on the weekend,” he added.
“We didn't go into the game planning to lose it. We were full of confidence. If we played them against next week, I'd be full of confidence again.
“We were in good shape (before Eden Park), we were in the same situation last week as we were two weeks ago. We still had to win two games to get this Bledisloe back, so that's gone.
“We've still got a chance to draw the series albeit not win the trophy back. We went close that night (in Sydney), though I think last week it showed that we're still a way off so we've got a lot to learn.” – Reuters